Jul 042017
 

Today I am again at the Mykolo Romerio Universitetas in Vilnius, Lithuania, for the European Conference on Social Media 2017. As usual this is a liveblog so additions, corrections etc. all welcome… 

Keynote presentation: Daiva Lialytė, Integrity PR, Lithuania: Practical point of view: push or pull strategy works on social media 

I attended your presentations yesterday, and you are going so far into detail in social media. I am a practitioner and we can’t go into that same sort of depth because things are changing so fast. I have to confess that a colleague, a few years ago, suggested using social media and I thought “Oh, it’s all just cats” and I wasn’t sure. But it was a big success, we have six people working in this area now. And I’m now addicted to social media. In fact, how many times do you check your phone per day? (various guesses)…

Well, we are checking our smartphones 100-150 times per day. And some people would rather give up sex than smartphones! And we have this constant flood of updates and information – notifications that pop up all over the place… And there are a lot of people, organisations, brands, NGOs, etc. all want our attention on social media.

So, today, I want to introduce three main ideas here as a practitioner and marketer…

#1 Right Mindset

Brands want to control everything, absolutely everything… The colour, the font, the images, etc. But now social media says that you have to share your brand in other spaces, to lose some control. And I want to draw on Paul Holmes, a PR expert (see www.holmesreport.com) and he says when he fell in love with social media, there were four key aspects:

  • Brands (in)dependency
  • Possibilities of (non)control
  • Dialogue vs monologue
  • Dynamic 24×7

And I am going to give some examples here. So Gap, the US fashion brand, they looked at updating their brand. They spent a great deal of money to do this – not just the logo but all the paperwork, branded items, etc. They launched it, it went to the media… And it was a disaster. The Gap thought for a few days. They said “Thank you brand lover, we appreciate that you love our brand and we are going to stick with the old one”. And this raises the question of to whom a brand belongs… Shareholders or customers? Perhaps now we must think about customers as owning the brand.

Yesterday I saw a presentation from Syracuse on University traditions – and some of the restrictions of maintaining brand – but in social media that isn’t always possible. So, another example… Lagerhaus (like a smaller scale Ikea). They were launching a new online store, and wanted to build community (see videos) so targeted interior six design blogs and created “pop up online stores” – bloggers could select products from the store’s selection, and promote them as they like. That gained media attention, gained Facebook likes for the store’s Facebook page. And there was then an online store launch, with invitees approached by bloggers, and their pop up stores continue. So this is a great example of giving control to others, and building authentic interest in your brand.

In terms of dialogue vs monologue I’d quote from Michael Dell here, on the importance of engaging in honest, direct conversations with customers and stakeholders. This is all great… But the reality is that many who talk about this, many are never ever doing this… Indeed some just shut down spaces when they can’t engage properly. However, Dell has set up a social media listening and command centre. 22k+posts are monitored daily, engaging 1000+ customers per week. This was tightly integrated with @dellcares Twitter/Facebook team. And they have managed to convert “ranters” to “ravers” in 30% of cases. And a decrease of negative commentary since engagement in this space. Posts need quick responses as a few minutes, or hours, are great, longer and it becomes less and less useful…

Similarly we’ve seen scandinavian countries and banks engaging, even when they have been afraid of negative comments. And this is part of the thing about being part of social media – the ability to engage in dialogue, to be part of and react to the conversations.

Social media is really dynamic, 24×7. You have to move fast to take advantage. So, Lidl… They heard about a scandal in Lithuania about the army paying a fortune for spoons – some were €40 each. So Lidl ran a promotion for being able to get everything, including spoons there cheaper. It was funny, clever, creative and worked well.

Similarly Starbucks vowing to hire 10,000 refugees in the US (and now in EU) following Trump’s travel ban, that was also being dynamic, responding quickly.

#2 Bold Actions

When we first started doing social media… we faced challenges… Because the future is uncertain… So I want to talk about several social media apps here…

Google+ launched claiming to be bigger than Facebook, to do it all better. Meanwhile WhatsApp… Did great… But disappearing as a brand, at least in Lithuania. SnapChat has posts disappearing quickly… Young people love it. The owner has said that it won’t be sold to Facebook. Meanwhile Facebook is trying desperately to copy functionality. We have clients using SnapChat, fun but challenging to do well… Instagram has been a big success story… And it is starting to be bigger than Facebook in some demographics.

A little history here… If you look at a world map of social networks from December 2009, we see quite a lot of countries having their own social networks which are much more popular. By 2013, it’s much more Facebook, but there are still some national social media networks in Lithuania or Latvia. And then by 2017 we see in Africa uptake of Twitter and Instagram. Still a lot of Facebook. My point here is that things move really quickly. For instance young people love SnapChat, so we professionally need to be there too. You can learn new spaces quickly… But it doesn’t matter as you don’t have to retain that for long, everything changes fast. For instance in the US I have read that Facebook is banning posts by celebrities where they promote items… That is good, that means they are not sharing other content…

I want to go in depth on Facebook and Twitter. Of course the most eminent social media platform is Facebook. They are too big to be ignored. 2 billion monthly active Facebook users (June 2017). 1.28 billion people log onto Facebook daily. 83 million fake profiles. Age 25 to 34 at 29.7% of users are biggest age group. For many people they check Facebook first in the morning when they wake up. And 42% of marketers report that Facebook is very important to their business. And we now have brands approaching us to set up Facebook presence no matter what their area of work.

What Facebook does well is most precise targeting – the more precise the more you pay, but that’s ok. So that’s based on geolocation, demographic characteristic, social status, interests, even real time location. That works well but remember that there are 83 million fake profiles too.

So that’s push, what about pull? Well there are the posts, clicks, etc. And there is Canvas – which works for mobile users, story driven ads (mini landing), creative story, generate better results and click through rates. (we are watching a Nespresso mobile canvas demo). Another key tool is Livestream – free of charge, notifications for your followers, and it’s live discussion. But you need to be well prepared and tell a compelling story to make proper use of this. But you can do it from anywhere in the world. For instance one time I saw livestream of farewell of Barack Obama – that only had 15k viewers though so it’s free but you have to work to get engagement.

No matter which tool, “content is the king!” (Bill Gates, 1996). Clients want us to create good stories here but it is hard to do… So what makes the difference? The Content Marketing Institute (US), 2015 suggest:

  1. Content
  2. Photos
  3. Newsletters
  4. Video
  5. Article
  6. Blogs
  7. Events
  8. Infographics
  9. Mobile applications
  10. Conferences and Livestreams

So, I will give some examples here… I’ll show you the recent winner of Cannes Lions 2017 for social media and digital category. This is “Project Graham” – a public driver safety campaign about how humans are not designed to survive a crash… Here is how we’d look if we were – this was promoted heavily in social media.

Help for push from Facebook – well the algorithms prioritise content that does well. And auctions to reach your audience mean that it is cheaper to run good content that really works for your audience.

And LinkedIn meanwhile is having a renaissance. It was quite dull, but they changed their interface significantly a few months back, and now we see influencers (in Lithunia) now using LinkedIn, sharing content there. For instance lawyers have adopted the space. Some were predicting LinkedIn would die, but I am not so sure… It is the biggest professional social network – 467 million users in 200 countries. And it is the biggest network of professionals – a third have LinkedIn profile. Users spend 17 minutes per dat, 40% use it every day, 28% of all internet users use LinkedIn. And it is really functioning as a public CV, recruitment, and for ambassadorship – you can share richer information here.

I wanted to give a recent example – it is not a sexy looking case study – but it worked very well. This was work with Ruptela, a high tech company that provides fleet management based on GPS tracking and real-time vehicle monitoring and control. They needed to hire rapidly 15 new sales representatives via social media. That’s a challenge as young people, especially in the IT sector – are leaving Lithuania or working in Lithuania-based expertise centres for UK, Danish, etc. brands.

So we ran a campaign, on a tiny budget (incomparable with headhunters for instance), around “get a job in 2 days” and successfully recruited 20 sales representatives. LinkedIn marketing is expensive, but very targeted and much cheaper than you’d otherwise pay.

#3 Right Skills

In terms of the skills for these spaces:

  • copywriter (for good storytelling)
  • visualist (graphics, photo, video)
  • community manager (to maintain appropriate contact) – the skills for that cannot be underestimated.
  • And… Something that I missed… 

You have to be like a one man band – good at everything. But then we have young people coming in with lots of those skills, and can develop them further…

So, I wanted to end on a nice story/campaign… An add for Budweiser for not drinking and driving

Q&A

Q1) Authenticity is the big thing right now… But do you think all that “authentic” advertising content may get old and less effective over time?

A1) People want to hear from their friends, from people like them, in their own words. Big brands want that authenticity… But they also want total control which doesn’t fit with that. The reality is probably that something between those two levels is what we need but that change will only happen as it becomes clear to big brands that their controlled content isn’t working anymore.

Q2) With that social media map… What age group was that? I didn’t see SnapChat there.

A2) I’m not sure, it was a map of dominant social media spaces…

Q3) I wanted to talk about the hierarchy of content… Written posts, visual content etc… What seemed to do best was sponsored video content that was subtitled.

A3) Facebook itself, they prioritise video content – it is cheaper to use this in your marketing. If you do video yes, you have to have subtitles so that you can see rather than listen to the videos… And with videos, especially “authentic video” that will be heavily prioritised by Facebook. So we are doing a lot of video work.

Introduction to ECSM 2018 Niall Corcoran, Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland

I wanted to start by thanking our hosts this year, Vilnius has been excellent this year. Next year we’ll a bit earlier in the year – late June – and we’ll be at the Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland. We have campuses around the region with 7000 students and 650 staff, teaching from levels 6 to 10. The nearest airport is Shannon, or easy distance from Cork or Dublin airports.

In terms of social media we do research on Social MEdia Interactive Learning Environment, Limerick Interactive Storytelling Network, Social Media for teaching and research, Social Media for cancer recovery.

In terms of Limerick itself, 80-90% of the Europe’s contact lenses are manufactured there! There is a lot of manufacturing in Limerick, with many companies having their European headquarters there. So, I’ve got a short video made by one of our students to give you a sense of the town. And we hope to see you there next year!

Social Media Competition Update

The top three placed entries are: Developing Social Paleantology – Lisa Lundgren; EDINA Digital Footprint Consulting and Training Service – Nicola Osborne (yay!); Traditions Mobile App – Adam Peruta.

Stream A: Mini track on Ethical use of social media data – Chair: Dragana Calic

The Benefits and Complications of Facebook Memorials – White Michelle, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, USA

I wanted to look at who people imagine are their audience for these memorials. And this happened because after the death made me look at this, and I decided to look into this in more depth.

So, I’m using danah boyd’s definition of social networking here. We are talking Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat etc. So, a Facebook Memorial is a group that is created specifically to mark the death of a friend or family members – or for public figures (e.g. Michael Jackson).

Robert Zebruck and Brubecker talk about imagined audience as the flattening of realities. So, right now I can see people in the room, I can see who you are, how you react, how to modify my tone or style to meet you, to respond to you. But it is hard to do that on social media. We see context collapse. And we can be sat there alone at our computer and not have that sense of being public. Sometimes with memorials we will say things for that audience, but in other cases perhaps it is sharing memories of drinking together, or smoking weed with something… Memories that may jar with others.

It was a long road to get to this research. My review board were concerned about emotional distress of interviewees. I agreed in the end to interview via Skype or Facebook and to check everything was ok after every question, to make it easier to see and review their state of mind. I had to wait over a year to interview people, the death had to not be by suicide, and the participants had to be over 18 years old. So I did conduct qualitative research over Skype and Facebook… And I found interviewees by looking at memorial pages that are out there – there are loads there, not all labelled as memorials.

So, my data… I began by asking who people thought they were talking to… Many hadn’t thought about it. They talked about family members, friends… Even in a very controlled group you can have trolls and haters who can get in… But often people assumed that other people were like them. A lot of people would write to the deceased – as if visiting a grave, say. I asked if they thought the person could hear or understand.. But they hadn’t really thought about it, it felt like the right thing to do… And they wanted family and friends to hear from them. They felt likes, shares, etc. were validating and therapeutic, and that sense of connection was therapeutic. Some even made friends through going out drinking, or family gatherings… with friends of friends who they hadn’t met before…

This inability to really think or understand the imagine audience, that led to context collapse. Usually family is in charge of these pages… And that can be challenging… For instance an up and coming football star died suddenly, and then it was evident that it was the result of a drug overdose… And that was distressing for the family who tried to remove that content. There is an idea of alternative narratives. Fake news or alternative facts has a particular meaning right now… But we are all used to presenting ourselves in a particular way to different friends, etc. In one memorial site the deceased had owed money to a friend, and they still felt owed that money and were posting about that – like a fight at the funeral… It’s very hard to monitor ourselves and other people…

And there was fighting about who owned the person… Some claiming that someone was their best friend, fights over who was more important or who was more influenced. It happens in real life… But not quite as visibly or with all involved…

So, in conclusion… There are  a lot of benefits for Facebook Memorials. Pyschologists talk of the benefit of connecting, grieving, not feeling alone, to get support. Death happens. We are usually sad when it happens… Social networking sites provide another way to engage and connect. So if I’m in Lithuania and there is a funeral in Hawaii that I can’t travel to, I can still connect. It is changing our social norms, and how we connect. But we can do more to make it work better – safety and security needs improving. Facebook have now added the ability to will your page to someone. And now if someone dies you can notify Twitter – it changes it slightly, birthday reminders no longer pop up, it acts as a memorial. There are new affordances.

Personally, doing this research was very sad, and it’s not an area I want to continue looking at. It was emotionally distressing for me to do this work.

Q&A

Q1) I am old enough to remember LiveJournal and remember memorials there. They used to turn a page into a memorial, then were deleted… Do you think Facebook should sunset these memorials?

A1) I personally spoke to people who would stare at the page for a month, expecting posts… Maybe you go to a funeral, you mourn, you are sad… But that page sticking around feels like it extends that… But I bet Mark Zuckerberg has some money making plan for keeping those profiles there!

Q2) What is the motivation for such public sharing in this way?

A2) I think young people want to put it out there, to share their pain, to have it validated – “feel my pain with me”. One lady I spoke to, her boyfriend was killed in a mass shooting… Eventually she couldn’t look at it, it was all debate about gun control and she didn’t want to engage with that any more…

Q3) Why no suicides? I struggle to see why they are automatically more distressing than other upsetting deaths…

A3) I don’t know… But my review board thought it would be more distressing for people…

Q4) How do private memorials differ from celebrity memorials?

A4) I deliberately avoided celebrities, but also my IRB didn’t want me to look at any groups without permission from every member of that group…

Comment) I’ve done work with public Facebook groups, my IRB was fine with that.

A4) I think it was just this group really… But there was concern about publicly identifiable information.

Online Privacy: Present Need or Relic From the Past? – Aguirre-Jaramillo Lina Maria, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia

In the influential essay, The Right to Privacy, in the Harvard Law Review (1890) – Warren and Brandeis, privacy was defined as “Privacy – the right to be let alone”. But in the last ten years or so we now see sharing of information that not long ago would have been seen and expected to be private. Earl Warren is a famous US judge and he said “The fantastic advances in the field of electronic communication constitute a greater danger to the privacy of the individual.”

We see privacy particularly threatened by systematic data collection. Mark Zuckerberg (1999) claims “Privacy is no longer a social norm”. This has been used as evidence of disregard toward users rights and data. The manner in which data is stored, changed and used and the associated threats. But we also see counter arguments such as the American Library Association’s Privacy Revolution campaign.

So, this is the context for this work in Columbia. It is important to understand literature in this area, particularly around data use, data combinations, and the connection between privacy concerns and behaviours online (Joinsen et al 2008). And we also refer to the work of Sheenan (2002) in the characterisations of online users. Particularly we are interested in new privacy concerns and platforms, particularly Facebook. The impact of culture on online privacy has been studied by Cho, Rivera Sanchez and Lim (2009).

The State of the Internet from OxII found that Columbia had between 40 and 60% of people online. Internet uptake is, however, lower than in e.g. the US. And in Columbia our population is 46% 25-54 years old.

So, my study is currently online. A wider group is also engaging in personal and group interviews. Our analysis will focus on what background knowledge, risk and privacy awareness there is amongst participants. Wat self-efficacy level is regealed by participants – their knowledge and habits. And what interest and willingness is there to acquire more knowledge and gain more skills to manage privacy. At a later stage we will be building a prototype tool.

Our conclusions so far… Privacy is hard to define and we need to do more to define it. Privacy is not a concept articulated in one only universally accepted definition. Different groups trade off privacy differently. Relevant concepts here include background knowledge, computer literacy, privacy risk, self efficacy.

And finally… Privacy is still important but often ignored as important in the wider culture. Privacy is not a relic but a changing necessity…

Q&A

Q1) Did age play a role in privacy? Do young people care as much as older people?

A1) They seem to care when they hear stories of peers being bullied, or harassed, or hear stories of hacking Instagram accounts. But their idea of privacy is different. But there is information that they do not want to have public or stolen. So we are looking more at that, and also a need to understand how they want to engage in privacy. As my colleague Nicola Osborne form Edinburgh said in her presentation yesterday, we have to remember students already come in with a long internet/social media history and presence.

Q2) I was wondering about cultural aspect… Apps used and whether privacy is important… For instance SnapChat is very exhibitionist but also ephemeral…

A2) I don’t have full answers yet but… Young people share on SnapChat and Instagram to build popularity with peers… But almost none of them are interested in Twitter… At least that’s the case in Columbia. But they do know some content on Facebook may be more vulnerable that SnapChat and Instagram… It may be that they have the idea of SnapChat as a space they can control perhaps…

Q3) I often feel more liberal with what I share on Facebook, than students who are 10 or 15 years younger… I would have some privacy settings but don’t think about the long story of that… From my experience students are a lot more savvy in that way… When they first come in, they are very aware of that… Don’t want a bigger footprint there…

A3) That is not exactly true in Columbia. The idea of Digital Footprint affecting their career is not a thing in the same way… Just becoming aware of it… But that idea of exhibitionism… I have found that most of the students in Columbia seem quite happy to share lots of selfies and images of their feet… That became a trend in other countries about three years ago… They don’t want to write much… Just to say “I’m here”… And there has been some interesting research in terms of the selfie generation and ideas of expressing yourself and showing yourself… May be partly to do with other issues… In Columbia many young women have plastic surgery – came out of the 1980s and 1990s… Many women, young women, have cosmetic surgery and want to share that… More on Instagram than Pinterest – Pinterest is for flowers and little girlie things…

Q4) You were talking about gender, how do privacy attitudes differ between males and females?

A4) The literature review suggests women tend to be more careful about what they publish online… They may be more careful selecting networks and where they share content… More willing to double check settings, and to delete content they might have difficulty explaining… Also more willing to discuss issues of privacy… Things may change over time… Suggestion that people will get to an age where they do care more… But we also need to see how the generation that have all of their images online, even from being a baby, will think about this… But generally seems to be slightly more concern or awareness from women…

Comment) I wanted to just follow up the Facebook comment and say that I think it may not be age but experience of prior use that may shape different habits there… Students typically arrive at our university with hundreds of friends having used Facebook since school, and so they see that page as a very public space – in our research some students commented specifically on that and their changing use and filtering back of Facebook contacts… For a lot of academics and mid career professionals Facebook is quite a private social space, Twitter plays more that public role. But it’s not age per se perhaps, it’s that baggage and experience.

Constructing Malleable Truth: Memes from the 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign – Wiggins Bradley, Webster University, Vienna, Austria, Austria

Now, when I wrote this… Trump was “a candidate”. Then he was nominee. Then president elect… And now President. And that’s been… surprising… So that’s the context.

I look at various aspects in my research, including internet memes. So, in the 2008 Obama’s campaign was great at using social media, at getting people out there and sharing and campaigning for them on a voluntary and enthusiastic basis. 2016 was the meme election I think. Now people researching Memes feel they must refer to Richard Dawkins talking about memes. He meant ideas… That’s not the same as internet memes… So what are the differences betwen Dawkins’ memes and Internet memes? Well honestly they are totally different EXCEPT that they require attention, and have to be reproducable….

Mikhail Bakhtin wrote about the Carnivalesque as something that subverts the dominant mode or perspective, it turns the world on its head… The king becomes the jester and the jester becomes the king. So the Trump tie memes… We need no text here, the absurd is made more absurd. It is very critical. It has that circus level laugh… He’s a clown or a buffoon… You know about it and how to reproduce this.

In terms of literature.. There is work on memes but I think when understanding memes with millennials, but also baby boomers, even people in their 70’s and 80s… We have to go back to major theorists, concepts and perspectives – Henry Jenkins, Erving Goffman, etc. This is a new mode of communication I think, not a new language, but a new mode.

So method wise… I wanted to do a rhetorical-critical analysis of selected internet memes from the facebook page Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash, which had over 420k members when I wrote this slide – more now. It was founded by a college student in October 2015. And there are hundreds of thousands of memes there. People create and curate them.

Two months before nad one month after the US Election I did two sets of samples… Memes that received 1000 or more likes/retweets. And memes that received at least 500 or more likes/reactions and at least 100 shares. As an unexpected side note I found that I needed to define “media narrative”. There doesn’t seem to be a good definition. I spoke to Brooke Gladstone of WYNC, I spoke with colleagues in Vienna… We don’t usually take time to think about media narrative… For instance the shooting at Pulse Nightclub has a narrative on the right around gun control, for others its around it being a sad and horrible event…

So, media narrative I am defining as:

  1. Malleable depending upon the ability to ask critical questions
  2.  Able to shape opinion as well as perceptions of reality and a person’s decision-making process and…
  3.  Linguistic and image-based simulations of real-world events which adhere and/or appeal to ontologically specific perspectives, which may include any intentional use of stereotyping, ideology, allegory, etc.

Some findings… The relational roles between image and text are interchangable because of the relationship to popular culture. Barthes (1977) takls about the text loading the image burdening it with culture, a moral, an imagination. And therefore the text in internet memes fluctuates depending n the intended message and the dependence on popular culture.

So, for instance we have an image from Nightmare at 20,000 ft, a classic Twilight Zone image… You need to know nothing here and if I replace a monster face with Donald Trump’s face… It’s instantly accessible and funny. But you can put any image there depending on the directionality of the intended meaning. So you have the idea of the mytheme or function of the monster/devil/etc. can be replaced by any other monster… It doesn’t matter, the reaction will depend on your audience.

Back to Barthes (1977) again, I find him incredibly salient to the work I’ve done here. One thing emerging from this and Russian memes work done before, is the idea of Polysemic directionality. It has one direction and intentionality.. No matter what version of this image you use…

So, here’s a quick clip of the Silence of the Lambs. And here Buffallo Bill, who kills women and skins them… A very scary character… We have him in a meme being a disturbing advisor in memes. If you get that reference it has more weight, but you don’t need to know the reference.

We have the image of Hillary as Two Face, we have Donald as The Joker… And a poster saying “Choose”. The vitriol directed at Clinton was far worse than that at Trump… Perhaps because Sanders supporters were disappointed at not getting the nomination.

We have intertextuality, we also have inter-memetic references… For example the Hilary deletes electoral colleges meme which plays on Grandma on the internet memes… YOu also have the Superman vs Trump – particularly relevant to immigrant populations (Jenkins 2010).

So, conclusions… The construction of a meme is affected and dependent on the media around it… That is crucial… We have heard about fake news, and we see memes in support of that fake news… And you may see that on all sides here. Intertextual references rely on popular culture and inter memetic references which assumes knowledge, a new form of communication. And I would argue that memes are a digital myth – I think Levi Strauss might agree with me on that…

And to close, for your viewing pleasure, the Trump Executive Order meme… The idea of a meme, an idea that can be infinitely replaced with anything really…

Q&A

Q1) This new sphere of memes… Do you think that Trump represents a new era of presidency… Do you think that this will pass? With Trump posting to his own Twitter account…

A1) I think that it will get more intense… And offline too… We see stickers in Austrian elections around meme like images… These are tools for millennials. They are hugely popular in Turkey… There are governments in Turkey, Iran and China are using memes as propaganda against other parties… I’m not sure it’s new but we are certainly more aware of it… Trump is a reality TV star with the nucleaur keys… That should scare us… But memes won’t go away…

Q2) In terms of memes in real life… What about bumper stickers… ? They were huge before… They are kind of IRL memes…

A2) I am working on a book at the moment… And one of the chapters is on pre-digital memes. WWII used to write “Kilroy was here”. Is Magritte’s Ceci n’est pas une pipe a meme? There is definitely a legacy of that… So yes, but depends on national regional context…

Q3) So… In Egypt we saw memes about Trump… We were surprised at the election outcome… What happened?

A3) Firstly, there is that bias that reinforcing narrative… If you looked at the Sanders meme page you might have had that idea that Clinton would not win because, for whatever reason, these people hated Hillary. Real rage and hatred towards her… And Trump as clown hitler… Won’t happen… Then it did… Then rage against him went up… After the Muslim ban, the women’s march etc…

Q4) There are some memes that seem to be everywhere – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sean Bean, etc… Why are we picking those specific particular memes of all things?

A4) Like the Picard WTF meme… Know Your Meme.com is a great resource… In the scene that Picard image is from he’s reciting Shakespeare to get Louixana Troy away from the aliens… It doesn’t matter… But it just fits, it has a meaning

Q5) Gender and memes: I wondered about the aspect of gender in memes, particularly thinking about Clinton – many of those reminded me of the Mary Beard memes and trolling… There are trolling memes – the frog for Trump… the semi-pornographic memes against women… Is there more to that than just (with all her baggage) Clinton herself?

A5) Lisa Silfestry from Gonzaga, Washington State and Lemour Shipman in Tel Aviv do work in that area. Shipman looks at Online Jokes of all types and has done some work on gender.

Q6) Who makes memes? Why?

A6) I taught a course on internet memes and cultures. That was one of the best attended courses ever. My students concluded that the author didn’t matter… But look at 4Chan and Reddit or Know Your Meme… And you can tell who created it… But does that matter… It’s almost a public good. Who cares who created the Trump tie meme. With the United Airline you can see that video, it turned into a meme… and it had lost millions in stock.

Stream B: Mini track on Enterprise Social Media – Chair: Paul Alpar

The Role of Social Media in Crowdfunding – Makina Daniel, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

My work seeks to find the connection between social media and finance, specifically crowd funding. And the paper introduces the phenomena of crowdfunding, and how the theory of social networking underpins social media. The theory around social media is still developing… Underpinned by theory of information systems and technology adoption, with different characteristics from what happens in social media.

So, a definition of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is essentially an aspect of crowdsourcing, spurred by ubiquitous web 2.0 technologies. And “Crowdfunding refers to the efforts of entrepreneurial individuals and groups – cultural, social and for-profit – to fund their ventures by drawing on relatively small contributions from a relatively large number of individuals using the internet, without standard financial intermediaries” (Mollick 2014).

Since 2010 there have been growing amounts of money raised globally through crowdfunding. Fobes estimates $34 billion in 2015 (compared to $16 billion in 2014, and $880 million in 2010). The World Bank estimates that crowdfunding will raise $93 billion annually by 2025. This growth couldn’t be achieved in the absence of internet technology, and social media are critical in promoting this form of alternative finance.

Cheung and Lee (2010) examined social influence processes in determining collective social action in the context of online social networks. Their model shows intentional soial action, with users considering themselves part of the social fabric. And they explain three processes of social influence: subjective norm – self outside of any group; group norm – self awareness as a member of a group; and social identity – self in context. Other authors explain social media popularity because of a lack of trust in traditional media, with people wary of information that emanates from people they do not know personally. Kaplin and Haenlein (2010) define social media as “a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.0 applications that allow the creation and exchange of user generated content” So it is a form of online interaction that enables people to create, comment, share and exchange content with other people.

So, how does social media facilitate finance, or crowd sourcing? Since social media assists in maintaining social ties, this should in turn aid facilitation of crowdfunding campaigns. Draw on Linus’s Law “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”. Large groups are more adept at detecting potential flaws in a campaign than individuals (alone). Thus providing fraudulent campaigns from raising money for crowdfunding projects. Facebook, Twitter, etc. provide spaces for sharing and connection are therefore suitable for crowdfunding campaigns. Studies have shown that 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy a product after becoming a fan of the products Facebook page (Knudsen 2015).

Brossman (2015) views crowdfunding as existing in two phases (i) brand awareness and (ii) targeting people to support/back one’s campaign. And crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarted and IndieGoGo allow project creators to publish pertinent information and updates, as well as to link to social media. Those connections are present and that also helps deal with a relative lack of social networking functionality within the platform itself, where they are able to create project descriptions, they have a community of users and utilise web 2.0 technologies that allow users to comment on projects and attract money.

A study by Moisseyez (2013) on 100 Kickstarter projects found that connection between social media approval and success in funding. Mollick (2014) observed that crowdfunding success is associated with having a large number of friends in online social networks: a founder with ten Facebook friends would have a 9% chance of succeeding; one with 100 friends would have a 20% chance of success; one with 1000 friends would have a 40% chance of success. He cited a film industry example where more friends mapped to a much higher potential success rates.

So, in conclusion, we don’t have many studies on this are yet. But social media is observed to aid crowdfunding campaigns through its ability to network disparate people through the internet. One notable feature is that although there are main forms of social media, crowdfunding utilizes a limited number of spaces, primarily Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore future research should examine how the expertise of the creator (requestor of funds) and project type, social network, and online presence influence motivations.

Q&A

Q1) I was wondering if you see any connection between the types of people who back crowdfunding campaigns, and why particular patterns of social media use, or popularity are being found. For instance anecdotally the people who back lots of crowdfunding campaigns – not just one off – tend to be young men in their 30s and 40s. So I was wondering about that profile of backers and what that looks like… And if that profile of backer is part of what makes those social media approaches work.

A1) The majority of people using social media are young people… But young people as sources of finance for, say, small businesses… They are mainly likely to be either studying or starting professional career… But not accumulating money to give it out… So we see a disconnect… Between who is on social media… On Twitter, Facebook, etc. to raise finance… You successful in raising funding from people who cannot raise much… So one would expect people in mid career were using most social media, would expect more money coming from crowdfunding… One aspect of crowdfunding… We are looking at resources… You asking for small amounts… Then young people are able to spare that much…

Q2) So most people giving funding on crowdfunding sites are young people, and they give small amounts…

A2) Yes… And that data from Mollick… combined with evidence of people who are using Facebook…

Q2) What about other specialised crowdfunding networks… ?

A2) There is more work to be done. But even small crowdfunding networks will connect to supporters through social media…

Q3) Have you looked at the relative offerings of the crowdfunding campaigns?

A3) Yes, technology products are more successful on these platforms than other projects…

Using Enterprise Social Networks to Support Staff Knowledge Sharing in Higher Education – Corcoran Niall, Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland and Aidan Duane, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland

This work is rooted in knowledge management, this is the basis for the whole study. So I wanted to start with a Ikujio Nonaka “in an econoy where the only certainty is uncertainty… ” And Lew Platt, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard said “If HP knew what HP knows it would be three times more productive” – highlighting the crucial role of knowledge sharing.

Organisations can gain competitive advantage through encouraging and promoting knowledge sharing – that’s the theory at least. It’s very important in knowledge-intensive organisations, such as public HEIs. HEIs need to compete in a global market place… We need to share knowledge… Do we do this?

And I want to think about this in the context of social media. We know that social media enable creation, sharing or exchange of information, ideas and media in virtual communities and networks. And organisational applications are close to some of the ideals of knowledge management: supporting group interaction towards establishing communities; enable creation and sharing of content; can help improve collaboration and communication with organisations; distinct technological features that are ideally suited for knowledge sharing; fundamental disruption in knowledge management; and social media is reinvigorating knowledge management as a field.

We do see Enterprise Social Networks (ESN). If you just bring one into an organisation, people don’t necessarily just go and use it. People need a reason to share. So another aspect is communities of practice (Lave and Wenger 1991), this is an important knowledge management strategy, increasingly used. This is about groups pf people who share a passion for something – loose and informal social structures, largely voluntary, and about sharing tacit knowledge. So Communities of Practice (CoP) tend to meet from time to time – in person or virtually.

ESN can be used to create virtual communities. This is particularly suitable for distributed communities – our university has multiple campuses for instance.

So, knowledge sharing in HEIs… Well many don’t do it. A number of studies have shown that KM implementation and knowledge sharing in HEIs is at a low level. Why? Organisational culture, organisational structures, beurocractic characteristics. And there is well documented divide/mistrust between faculty and support staff (silos) – particularly work from Australia, US and UK. So, can CoP and ESN help? Well in theory they can bypass structures that can reinforce silos. That’s an ideal picture, whether we get there is a different thing.

So our research looked at what the antecedents for staff knowledge sharing are; what the dominant problems in the implementation of ESN and CoP. The contextual setting here is Limerick Institute of Technology. I used to work in IT services and this work came significantly from this interest. There is a significant practical aspect to the research so action research seemed like the most appropriate approach.

So we had a three cycle action research project. We looked at Yammer. It has all the features of social networking you’d expect – can engage in conversations, tagged, shared, can upload content. It lends itself well to setting up virtual communities, very flexible and powerful tools for virtual communities. We started from scratch and grew to 209 users.

Some key findings… We found culture and structure are major barriers to staff knowledge sharing. We theorised that and found it to be absolutely the case. The faculty staff divide in HEI exacerbates the problem. Management have an important role to play in shaping a knowledge sharing environment. The existence of CoP are essential to build a successful knowledge sharing environment, and community leaders and champions are require for the ESN. Motivation to participate is also crucial. If they feel motivated, and they see benefit, that can be very helpful. And those benefits can potentially lead to culture change, which then effects motivation…

We found that our organisation has a strong hierarchical model. Very beaurocratic and rigid. Geographic dispersal doesn’t help. To fix this we need to move from a transactional culture. The current organisational structure contributes to the faculty staff divide, limits opportunities and motivations for staff and faculty to work together. But we also found examples where they were working well together. And in terms of the role of management, they have significant importance, and have to be involved to make this work.

Virtual communities are a Knowledge Management strategy has the potential to improve collaboration and interaction between staff, and it has to be seen as valued, relevant, a valid work activity. Staff motivation wise there are some highly motivated people, but not all. Management have to understand that.

So management need to understand the organisational culture; recognise the existence of structural and cultural problems; etc. Some of the challenges here are the public sector hierarchical structures – public accountability, media scrutiny, transitional culture etc.

Q&A

Q1) On a technical level, which tools are most promising for tacit knowledge sharing…

A1) The whole ability to have a conversation. Email doesn’t work for that, you can’t branch threads… That is a distinctive feature of Yammer groups, to also like/view/be onlookers in a conversation. We encourage people to like something if they read it, to see that it is useful. But the ability to have a proper conversation, and organised meetings and conversations in real time.

Q2) What kind of things are they sharing?

A2) We’ve seen some communities that are large, they have a real sense of collaboration. We’re had research coming out of that, some really positive outcomes.

Q3) Have you seen any evidence of use in different countries… What are barriers across different regions, if known?

A3) I think the barriers are similar to the conceptual model (in the proceedings) – both personal and organisational barriers… People are afraid largely to share stuff… They are nervous of being judged… Also that engagement on this platform might make managers thing that they are not working. Age is a limiting factor – economic issues mean we haven’t recruited new staff for almost 10 years, so we are older as a staff group.

Q3) Might be interested to compare to different cultures, with asian culture more closed I think…

A3) Yes, that would be really interesting to do…

Q4) I am trying to think how and what I might share with my colleagues in professional services, technical staff, etc.

A4) The way this is constructed is in communities… We have staff interested in using Office 365 and Classroom Notebook, and so we set up a group to discuss that. We have champions who lead that group and guide it. So what is posted there would be quite specific… But in Yammer you can also share to all… But we monitor and also train our users in how and where to post… You can sign up for groups or create new groups… And it is moderated. But not limited to specifically work related groups – sports and social groups are there too. And that helps grow the user base and helps people see benefits.

Q5) Have you looked at Slack at all? Or done any comparison there?

A5) We chose Yammer because of price… We have it in O365, very practical reason for that… We have looked at Slack but no direct comparison.

Finalists in the Social Media in Practice Excellence Competition present their Case Histories

EDINA Digital Footprint Consulting and Training Service – Nicola Osborne

No notes for this one…

Developing Social Paleantology – Lisa Lundgren;

This is work with a software development company, funded by the National Science Foundation. And this was a project to develop a community of practice around paleontology… People often think “dinosaur” but actually it’s about a much wider set of research and studies of fossils. For our fossil project to meet it’s goal, to develop and support that community, we needed to use social media. So we have a My Fossil community, which is closed to the community, but also a Facebook group and Twitter presence. We wanted to use social media in an educative way to engage the community with our work.

We began with design studies which looked at what basic elements to contribute to engage with social media, and how to engage. We were able to assess practical contributions and build an educatie and evidence-based social media plan. So we wanted to create daily posts using social paleantology, e.g. #TrilobiteTuesday; design branded image-focused posts that are practice-specific, meet design principles, often huperlinks to vetted paleontological websites; respond to members in ways that encourage chains of communication. There is a theoretical contribution here as well. And we think there are further opportunities to engage more with social paleontology and we are keen for feedback and further discussion. So, I’m here to chat!

 

Traditions Mobile App – Adam Peruta.

When new university students come to campus they have lots of concerns like what is this place, where do I fit in, how can I make new friends. That is particularly the case at small universities who want to ensure students feel part of the community, and want to stay around. his is where the Traditions Challenge app comes in – it provides challenges and activities to engage new students in university traditions and features. This was trialled at Ithaca University. So, for instance we encourage students to head along to go along to events, meet other new students, etc. We encourage students to meet their academic advisors outside of the classroom. To explore notable campus features. And to explore the local community more – like the farmers market. So we have a social feed – you can like, comment, there is an event calendar, a history of the school, etc. And the whole process is gamified, you gain points through challenges, you can go on the leaderboard so there are incentives to gain status… And there are prizes too.

Looking at the results this year… We had about 200 students who collectively completed over 1400 challenges, the person who completed the most (and won a shirt) completed 53 challenges. There are about 100 challenges in the app so it’s good they weren’t all done in one year. And we see over 50k screen views so we know that the app is getting more attention whether or not people engage in the challenges. Students focus groups raised themes of the enjoyment of the challenge list, motivation for participation (which varied), app design and user experience – if there’s one key takeaway: this demographic has really high expectations for user interface, design and tone; contribution to identity… Lots of academic research that the more students are engaged on campus, the more likely they will remain at that university and remain engaged through their studies and as alumni. So there is loads of potential here, and opportunity to do more with the data.

So, the digital experience is preferred, mobile development is expensive and time consuming, good UI/UX is imperative to success, universities are good at protecting their brands, and we learned that students really want to augment their on-campus academic experiences.

Conference organiser: Those were the finalists from yesterday, so we will award the prizes for first, second and third… and the PhD prize…

Third place is Lisa; Second place is me (yay!); First place is Adam and the Traditions mobile app.

I’m going to rely on others to tweet the PhD winners…

The best poster went to IT Alignment through Artificial Intelligence – Amir  – this was mainly based on Amir’s performance as his poster went missing so he had to present to an A4 version of the poster so he did a great job of presenting.

Thank you to our hosts here… And we hope you can join us in Limerick next year!

Thanks to all at ECSM 2017.

Apr 272012
 
AH-FB-newtimeline

It’s been a while since I posted an actual blog post rather than a liveblog and I thought it might be useful to summarise some interesting new social media news that has emerged over the last few weeks. It’s in no particular order but should hopefully be of interest.

Friends Reunited re-launches. One of the very first social networks has made a very unlikely comeback recently. Friends Reunited was the Facebook of it’s day (around 2001-3) encouraging old school friends to connect and post messages on each others walls. It had a real following in the UK but it didn’t develop fast enough and when it was sold from it’s private owners to ITV it really went into decline. However with the visual appeal of Tumblr, Pinterest and HistoryPin in mind and the massive appeal of family history as a new focus the site has relaunched in a new visual nostalgic style. Those used to frequenting Mum’s Comfort Food (formerly Monster Mash) in Edinburgh will instantly be used to the look and feel which is a bit like iPlayer in I Love the 1980s mode. And a fascinating footnote: Freindsreunited are manually retrieving login details for users who can no longer remember their logins, email addresses, passwords etc. It’s notable only because it’s rare a site is around so long it justifies doing that. Although from my first login there it looks like the masses have not returned to Friendsreunited (yet) despite the press coverage.

HistoryPin adds lots of new features! Chief amongst these are Channels which allow significant customisation and aggregation of contributions. A lovely idea for individuals, local history groups etc. We were lucky enough to have Rebekkah from HistoryPin along at a JISC GECO workshop on Geospatial in the Cultural Heritage Domain last month – you see the notes from her talk – which included sneak previews of the new Channels – over on the GECO LiveBlog for the event.

Facebook launches Timeline for Pages. Anyone with a Facebook page will know by now that the old style pages rolled over to the new style Timeline on 31st March 2012. The new look and feel will be very familiar to anyone looking at friends profiles over the last few months (personal profiles having rolled over around January).  Whilst the responses to personal timelines seems to have been quite mixed I think the new format work rather well for Pages and I haven’t seen much in the way of criticism – although inevitably looking around for familiar elements takes a wee bit of getting used to.

One of the most fun parts of the new format Facebook pages is the ability to add “Covers” – large images (851px by 315px – very similar to many WordPress theme banner sizes) which have presumably been labelled as “Covers” to appeal both to those who create elaborate scrapbooks and photo albums as well as those who wish they’d been in a rock band. We’ve now got Covers in place for all of our Facebook pages – why not take a look at the EDINA AddressingHistory Page and Digimap Page both of which use nice geospatial images:

Digimap's Facebook Page showing the new Timeline.

We actually try to keep a collection of images of events, services, etc. for just these sorts of times. A number of us at EDINA are pretty decent photographers and tend to take Digital SLRs to events anyway so we make a concious effort to capture our own high resolution images that are specific to us and our work so that when it comes to sharing images, illustrating blog posts or reports, etc. we have suitable images to hand. For AddressingHistory and JISC GECO, both of which were both very much about engaging the community and encouraging them to blog we’ve found Flickr accounts really useful – sharing images of materials and events lets others out on the web create more engaging posts and talk about our projects. Talking of images…

Facebook buys Instagram for $1 billion. Old news now but still worth noting. The story has mainly been reported from a “is this the new dot com bubble” perspective which is hardly surprising as the purchase does value a free iPhone app at more than the value of subscription-based New York Times. However looking at this a bit more pragmatically it’s not quite such a daft purchase. Facebook has paid “cash and shares” and with the Facebook IPO coming up very soon it’s possible those shares are a big part of the payment and being valued highly. More importantly Instagram has a lot of the design and hipster chic that Facebook lacks, useful in itself, and will bring with it a user base and their photos – since images are, in my experience, some of the most productive sources of interaction on Facebook, that’s also significant. Instagram’s main function is to make fairly mediocre phone images look quirky, nostalgic, and tangible in a hard to explain sort of way. Adding that functionality to the photo sharing and storing aspects of Facebook seems like a good move as more of us move to experiencing the site almost exclusively on smartphones or tablets. On a sort of related note a very good recent(ish) Planet Money podcast talked about the longtail of the app economy with the founder of Instapaper.

Pinterest sees rapid growth and claims 97% of fans are female (see piece in Forbes and stats on TechCrunch). If Pininterest has passed you by so far you may be more than a little surprised at the number of new users it’s attracted in a very short time. The idea is very simple and rather familiar if you’re used to using Tumblr, the Flipboard iPad app, the new(ish) Delicious Stacks, Flickr Galleries, Storify, and any number of more obscure Web2.0 sites.  Pinterest is essentially a virtual pinboard for images – you can also add short comments and share those links/images. It’s a very basic idea but engaging because it is so visual, easy to use, and the interface is based on big buttons, easy browsing etc.  Like many predecessors it’s a custom magazine for the web but, unlike many of those, it also has a big user community. And for reference websites with no “pinnable” images cannot be pinned/saved/shared so it’s a great reminder to always include a good image on your webpresences – particularly if you can share something eyecatching!

Citizen Olympics Reporting. Two recent and exciting citizen reporting initiatives have been kicked off recently. The first and larger is #media2012, a reporting network for the Olympics. They held a recent kick off meeting which you can read about here. There is also an associated project to provide crowdsourced blog coverage of the Scottish arm of the torch relay which goes by the name CitizenRelay. Read more about getting involved here.

And finally… EDINA has a new LinkedIn page! If you head over there you can start following us for updates and news. And if you are a current or former staffer here do update your profile to create a connection back to the page. We’ve actually been planning to create a LinkedIn page for a while so it’s really good to see it live!

And even more finally… Our Will’s World project (#willdiscover) has launched and is contributing data for this year’s Culture Hack Scotland. The data is here in case you’re interested but there will be much more on that to follow…

 

Nov 172011
 
Image of Google Buzz

As you may have noticed by now Google Buzz the useful but disastrously deployed Google social stream tool that used to live within the Googlemail interface (and within Google Profiles) is no more.  This is part of a widespread series of consolidations Google have been making to their social media and collaboration tools (as well as the closure of Google Labs), the most notable of which has been their controversial rebrand of services to a new sharp/Google+ inspired look and feel.

Google Buzz was built on the Friendfeed notion of the value of social activity streams – you could feed your blog, tweets, images etc. in automatically and then like or comment on others’ activity. That concept now tends to go by the name “lifestreaming” as that seems to capture the idea nicely though of course it is only a small portion of “life” that is streamed in such tools.

Image of FriendFeed

FriendFeed profile view

The benefit of Google Buzz, Friendfeed and similar systems is that you can have a profile that automatically updates with key content and can then opt in to further interactivity – discussions with friends and contacts, follow up messages etc. However the downside to these tools is that you are not driven to login regularly, to engage in more discussion (rather than one way narrowcasting or broadcasting of content) and you may not use that site as your primary access to any of your contacts updates. As the social networking wars hot up between Google+ and Facebook that hands off updating is losing appeal to social media site operators – anyone accessing a site through a third party app or automatically updating a site via RSS does not need to login, look at advertising on the site, and may not be as likely to stay on site for a long time. It was interesting that Google+ launched as a site that wants you to post updates directly. Just a short while later Facebook have just dropped one of their longer standing features – the Facebook Notes importer driven, presumably, by similar motivations.

The loss of Facebook Notes importing will be particularly noticable for Page administrators who are used to being able to generate automatically updated content through blog posts or Twitter feeds. Individuals may not login and engage if they can import all their updates automatically but organisations are very different beasts: blogs tend to be updated more frequently, activity tends to be checked in a different and more proactive way than personal comments and the importer is used far more widely because of this. It will be interesting to see how page owners adapt to the change – we’ll certainly be switching tack for a few of our Facebook pages here to accommodate the change although the timing for this is good as Google+ pages have just launched so it is likely that we can apply similar updating process to both spaces at least in the short term.

However the loss of automatic updates  does not mean the lifestream (a term I first came across via the WordPress plugin of the same name) is dead. Mobile social media usage is driving more aggregation – who wants to open 5 apps every time one looks at their phone – with tools like AOL’s Lifestream App, Apples iOS Notifications Centre, and indeed the sorts of social bookmarking-like functionality of Facebook’s own social newspaper reading apps. Blogs too seem likely to hold strong in light of the Facebook Notes changes/wider importing restrictions – some will surely switch to using Notes as a blog (which many users already do), many others will find email subscription a strong alternative and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the linkage between Google+ and Google Reader strengthening (dealing with RSS without a simple UI remains a little too techie for many blog readers).

Image of the Developer Preview of Facebook Timeline

Developer Preview of Facebook Timeline

Also in this space Facebook have launched Timeline – a way to add a narrative arc to your shared materials that reflects a more curated lifestream approach – or perhaps a more visual and social version of blogging. It will be interesting to see how that takes off as it is simultaneously quite appealing and clearly an effort to ensure lock-in to Facebook through investment of time, energy and emotional memory. As talk of the “happy cloud” and reputation management online become more foregrounded it will be particularly interesting to see how users edit their “private activity log” and deal with  editing former partners, friends, colleagues etc. in/out of their personal life stories.

Related Links

 November 17, 2011  Posted by at 1:38 pm Social Media News & Resources Tagged with: , , ,  8 Responses »
May 252011
 

As a keen social media user/evangelist I tend to have a very liberal view of my personal data. I register for sites all the time and there is therefore an awful lot of information out on the web about me. But at Internet World last week (fuller blog post on that to follow) I found myself feeling more cautious than usual about my data when I was issued a badge with a barcode on the front:

Image of the front of the Internet World 2011 conference badge

Image of the back of the Internet World 2011 conference badge

The badge, it transpired, could be used by any exhibitor to quickly grab personal data.  The terms (just visible on that reverse image) were printed on the badge and, on some level, I suppose this trade of data for information was an expected part of attending the event for free. It was still a slight surprise to find a scanner greeting me at every stand…

All of the exhibitors I encountered asked before swiping my badge (though they didn’t explain their data protection policy and I didn’t think to ask) and there were some definite advantages – I didn’t have to write down my details endlessly making for much quicker exchanges of information. But there were some less optional encounters – gaining access to any talk at the event required you to show your badge for scanning – and these details could then also be relayed to the speaker. Data Protection wise you are still “agreeing” to share your data but by the time you have queued for half an hour you are pretty unlikely to say no.

Image of Jelly Beans

Jelly beans by Mark Hillary (markhilary on Flickr)

“Schwag” – free stuff branded with logos and product info and handed out by exhibitors – is always a big part of these sorts of expos and are always used as an incentive to share data. I heard one attendee behind me in the queue excitedly showing off the free jelly belly beans being handed out by an exhibitor. Whenhis colleagues asked him where he’d gotten them he replied “oh they were free but I just had to get my badge scanned”. That seemed like a pretty good deal for the exhibitor to me – for a few pence they capture the full contact details and job title of your target market. That’s not to say that I didn’t let my own badge get scanned but I tried to only do so where I had genuine interest in being on the relevant company’s mailing list – jelly beans, free ice cream even, were not enticements enough on their own.

Reputation (personal and brand)

On an interesting and sort of related note… Nature recently published a poll and article on the importance of reputation and online image to researchers. Well worth a look (as are the survey results) for anyone thinking about doing a little spring cleaning of their online profiles.

By contrast… Facebook has enabled Brand Tagging (more info in this Mashable article). This allows any Facebook user to tag a brand in a photo. Why would anyone do this? Well there are two main reasons: people want to share pictures of themselves enjoying a branded product (maybe to show off, maybe to name check a song, maybe just because they really love the idea of being associated with a brand) particularly if that is fed into the Facebook page for that brand (witness, for instance, the already well populated “Photos and Videos of…” section of the Coca Cola Photos page) ; secondly this does enable new types of competitions to take place (further evolving the “in 20 words or less explain why x is your favourite brand of y” type contest).

There is, of course a third and more subversive reason for tagging an image with your favourite brand though: if Coca Cola has 27 million fans (as it currently does) and you want to sell or promote or share something with lots of people quickly you could do far worse than post your image with an incorrect brand tag. I suspect the time involved in brands removing tags over the first few months of trialling the tags will be significant…